The top-seeded Maryland field hockey team was defeated 2-1 by No. 2 seed Penn State in the Big Ten championship game on Sunday.
Coming into the game, Maryland (17-4) had won their only meeting of the season, 5-4, away at Penn State. That game was hotly contested, especially towards the end.
For most of the first half, this game would be no different. It was a struggle for both possession and chances for both teams.
Early on, it looked as though Penn State had the advantage, pressuring the Terps in their own half and getting off several close opportunities in front of the net. However, the Maryland defense and goalie Sarah Bates were more than up to the task.
Slowly but surely, Maryland grew into the game, and started pressuring the Nittany Lions in their own half, getting many good opportunities in the Penn State circle.
It would take until the 26th minute for any action to happen. Welma Luus’s pass into the Penn State circle took a crazy bounce, but Emma Rissinger was able to deflect the pass into the back of the net for the Terps, giving them a 1-0 lead going into the half.
Unfortunately for the Terps, it would be a different story in the second half. The Nittany Lions would start out on the attack early, earning a penalty corner within the first minute of the half.
Off the penalty corner, Aurelia Meijer dumped her 10th goal of the season into the bottom corner of the net, tying the game for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions would continue their pressure on the Terps, and just seven minutes later, Penn State would take the lead on Gini Bramley’s 15th goal of the season. Bramley’s shot went just out of the reach of Maryland goalie Sarah Bates.
Maryland would switch goalies after this, putting in Sarah Holliday. She would make several crucial saves for the remainder of the game, keeping the Terps at a one-goal deficit.
For the rest of the game, Maryland played in a press-style attack. The Terps kept at most two or three defenders back. Holliday was even pulled with several minutes to go for an extra player.
This strategy almost worked out with about a minute left, as a goal-line scramble almost got the Terps their equalizer. However, Penn State was able to keep the ball from crossing the line, and the Nittany Lions were able to clinch the Big Ten Championship.
Now, the Terps play the waiting game, as the NCAA selection show Sunday night at 10 p.m. will decide their fate.
Three things to know
- Errant passes and inability to create chances: A reason for Maryland’s defeat was their inability to connect on passes breaking downfield, and the lack of chances created in the Penn State circle. A big reason for this was the play of Penn State’s defense, who played excellent the entire game.
- Not enough penalty corners: Maryland only had two penalty corners the entire game. Again, a reason for this was the Penn State defense, but overall, Maryland only took eight shots, which is quite low for the Terps. Penn State only had nine shots and three penalty corners, but the Nittany Lions capitalized on their chances.
- Maryland’s corner defense: Penn State didn’t create many chances overall in the game, and the reason for this was the success of the Terps’ corner defense. They pushed the Nittany Lions to the middle of the field, eliminating any chance of a pass into the middle of the circle on a break. Unfortunately, Maryland didn’t capitalize on the offensive side.